Please choose which option you would like to add to your cart.
Advanced Search

Dungeon Master's Guide (1e)
Full‑size Preview

Dungeon Master's Guide (1e)

Selected Option:
Watermarked PDF
Hardcover, Standard Color Book
Watermarked PDF + Hardcover, Standard Color Book

The 1st Edition Dungeon Master's Guide is Back! Dungeon Masters everywhere, rejoice! Too long have you had to suffer along with crucial charts and tables spread through many works. Too long have you had to use makeshift references trying to solve the problem. You now have a complete compilation of the most valuable material for your refereeing, the Dungeon Master's Guide. Herein you will find:

  • Combat Matrices
  • Encounter Tables
  • Monster Attacks Alphabetically Listed
  • Treasure and Magic Tables and Descriptions
  • Gem Values by Type
  • Random Wilderness Terrain Generation
  • Random Dungeon Generation
  • Suggestions on Game Mastering
  • And a Whole Lot More! 

This excellent tome is a must for every Dungeon Master!

Note about the Print edition: While this book is black & white, it was printed using the Standard Heavyweight "color" option for better quality paper.

Product History

Dungeon Masters Guide (1979), by Gary Gygax, was the second book of rules for the AD&D game. It was published in August 1979.

About the Cover. The iconic cover to the Dungeon Masters Guide shows adventurers fighting an efreet; it's only when you look at the back cover that you realize the battle is being fought on the elemental plane of fire, in the City of Brass. Players wanting more information on this legendary locale would need to wait a few decades for the release of ALQ4: Secrets of the Lamp (1993) — unless they were able to play in Rob Kuntz's tournament adventure in the last '80s.

This cover was later replaced with a Jeff Easley illustration of a dangerous-looking dungeon master.

About the Title. Like the Players Handbook (1978) before it, the Dungeon Masters Guide purposefully eschewed its apostrophe. The punctuation wouldn't return until AD&D 2e (1989).

About the Other Illustrations. The interior artwork in Dungeon Masters Guide is by David C. Sutherland III, Dave Trampier, Darlene Pekul, Will McLean, David S. La Force, and Erol Otus. It includes a few pieces that would surprise modern players, including some partial nudes and some cartoons — both of which were common in the early D&D releases. The most famous illustration in the book is probably Trampier's beautifully executed full-page illustration of "Emirikol the Chaotic" riding through town. A number of the cartoons are quite memorable too, such as the picture of the +2 backscratcher and the image of a fighter cringing from a rust monster.

Moving Toward AD&D. TSR began moving toward a new edition of the D&D game in 1977 — either with the publication of Basic Dungeons & Dragons (1977) or the Monster Manual (1977), depending on how you categorize those early releases. However, it took two years for that new game to full appear; between December 1977 and August 1979 most players were playing a hybrid game, using the monster from the Monster Manual and the character races and classes from the Players Handbook in their OD&D games.

In 1979, the AD&D rules were finally completed and players now could play pure AD&D games if they wanted. Many new players surely did, but the line between OD&D, BD&D, and AD&D remained fuzzy throughout the early '80s, and older players were just as likely to stay with their hybrid homebrews.

Many Printings. All of the original AD&D books were reprinted extensively in the '80s, and even into the '90s. TSR records 14 official printings of the original Dungeon Masters Guide, but the Acaeum web site notes more, in part because variant versions were sometimes hand-assembled at TSR.

The first printing (1979) of the Dungeon Masters Guide had a big problem: half a signature was printed with pages from the Monster Manual instead of the Dungeon Masters Guide! TSR was forced to recall the book, which made the long-awaited finale to AD&D rare even after its publication!

The sixth printing (1979) — published just four months later, in December — brought the first large-scale change to the book. It incorporated extensive errata from Dragon #35 (March 1980) and even added two appendices: O — Encumbrance of Standard Items and P — Creating a Party on the Spur of the Moment. This and all later printings were labeled as a "Revised Edition".

The eighth printing (1983) was the one that replaced the cover, as part of a general upgrade to TSR's new trade dress; the new books all featured Jeff Easley covers and an orange spine.

As with the other classic AD&D books, nostalgic editions were later published by Twenty First Century Games (1999) and Wizards of the Coast (2012).

A Different Sort of Dungeon Masters Guide. The contents of the 1e Dungeon Masters Guide would probably surprise a modern player of D&D. That's because more recent Dungeon Master's Guides have become books about how to run D&D, while the original Dungeon Masters Guide was instead the system's core rulebook.

To be precise, the first edition Dungeon Masters Guide contained all of the rules for the AD&D game except for those related to character creation — and Gygax drew that line very strictly. The Players Handbook (1978) included information on abilities, classes, and races, but the Dungeon Masters Guide contained many of the actual rules for those game elements. If you wanted to know how to roll your characteristics, how to turn undead, how to hit a monster, or how to save a throw, those rules were here!

This split resulted in a somewhat unusual organization for the Dungeon Masters Guide. The first 50 page or so exactly mirror the organization of the Players Handbook, with each section filling in the rules systems that hadn't been included in the previous volume. Only after that did the Dungeon Masters Guide fully embrace the dungeon mastering side of the game, with rules for combat and discussions of adventures, NPCs, and other favorites like magic items. The result is a real mish-mash that feels more like a random assortment of articles than a coherent rule book.

Figuring out what's where in the Dungeon Masters Guide is one of the most challenging parts of AD&D 1e play, because the book is full of tiny tidbits of information, often hidden in the most unusual places. Perhaps this was all an intentional part of the design, as the Dungeon Masters Guide does say that it's a "compiled volume". So consider it the "AD&D Omnibus".

What a Difference an Edition Makes. The AD&D Monster Manual (1977) and Players Handbook (1978) both expanded the OD&D (1974) game without rebooted it. They revised the rules to improve specificity and increase details without fundamentally changing the game systems.

To a large extent, the Dungeon Masters Guide is more of the same, with its emphasis on updating characters, combat, experience, and magic items. However, there are some notable changes in these systems.

  1. Characters are better. This is the result of changes to the ability score generation method. In OD&D, players rolled 3d6, in order, for their characteristics. In AD&D the least generous system has players rolling 4d6 for their characteristics and throwing out the worst number, then arranging the numbers as they see fit. The result shows two big changes in how D&D was being played: characters are more powerful and players are getting more choice over what they play.
  2. Combat is expanded (to over 20 pages!). A segmented combat system helps spells to better interweave with melee. Theoretically this is modified by weapon speed and even by a comparison of weapon vs armor type, but the complexity of the AD&D combat system was sufficient that many GMs left out many of its subsystems. This was also the case for AD&D's new unarmed combat systems, which most found too complex to use.
  3. Everything is detailed with unusual one-off rules. Every time you turn a couple of pages in the Dungeon Masters Guide, you'll find a rule that most 1e GMs probably don't use and don't even know about. Adjustments for pursuit and evasion based on party size? Special AC rules for unhelmeted characters? Organizational suggestions for monsters? Insanity lists? Intoxication effects and recovery? Government forms? Infravision that causes the eyes to glow bright red? It's all here.

Many Appendices. One of the most impressive parts of the Dungeon Masters Guide is its set of appendices. There are sixteen total, though the last two were only added with the fourth printing of the book. Some of the appendices were apparently heavily influenced by Bob Bledsaw of Judges Guild, who'd already produced notable GM aids like Ready Ref Sheets (1977, 1978) and who then sent Gygax hundreds of pages of material from his own campaign.

A few of the appendices are worth additional comment:

  • Appendix A is a random dungeon generation table which allows for solo AD&D play in an infinite dungeon.
  • Appendix C contains encounter tables for monsters and includes AD&D's most infamous subtable: the Random Harlot table.
  • Appendix E lists all the AD&D monsters' stats, including their experience point values, which had been missing from the Monster Manual.
  • Appendix N, the "inspirational and educational reading" list, is the most famous of the appendices. It shows the breadth of AD&D's influences, from heroic fantasy (Tolkien) to historic fantasy (Anderson) to swords & sorcery (Howard, Leiber, Moorcock) to science fantasy (Burroughs, Farmer, Lanier). Of course, some of these sources have since gone out of favor. Gygax would infamously claim in Dragon #95 (March 1985) that Tolkien wasn't actually an influence on D&D, while science fantasy would disappear from mainstream D&D in the '80s.

The Inevitable Lawsuit. Dave Arneson was the coauthor of the original D&D game, but when Gygax put together AD&D (1977-1979), Arneson's name disappeared. This caused Arneson to file a lawsuit in 1979, which was settled in March 1981. The exact terms of the agreement are confidential, but later lawsuits suggest that Arneson afterward earned royalties from the AD&D books.

Future History. The Dungeon Masters Guide completed what would become the traditional set of three core D&D books. However, Gygax planned for the series to actually have four books, with the last one being "Gods, Demigods, & Heroes", which was actually published as Deities & Demigods (1980).

About the Creators. Gygax was of course the author of D&D, but Arneson's lawsuit shows that there was contention over who did what, even while D&D was entering a new era of play.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to Thanks to the Acaeum for careful research on Dungeon Masters Guide printings.

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (24)
Discussions (19)
Customer avatar
Ian M March 25, 2020 4:29 pm UTC
I just bought this. It arrived quickly and is in excellent condition. I am very excited about owning this again, I have no idea what happened to mine and maybe I will find it again, but until then, this hard copy book is great and I am very happy with the purchase.
Customer avatar
Aarón David C March 18, 2020 10:44 am UTC
Why no premium color on this one? MM, UA and PH have premium and this one is standard o_0
Customer avatar
Ilias L March 13, 2020 7:24 am UTC
I would like to know if there is a reason this is available in standard only and the other 2 AD&D core books in premium.
Customer avatar
KEVIN D March 15, 2020 2:18 am UTC
I want to get all three core books in Premium POD as the GM sale is ending tomorrow. Holding off until this gets fixed.
Hope it isn't months of waiting like the MM was to get this sorted. I want to give them money!
Customer avatar
KEVIN D March 12, 2020 11:46 pm UTC
Was The DM's Guide ever available in the Premium print version?
I see the MM and PH currently are.
Anyone want to chime in if there was a big difference between the Premium and the Standard before I put money down on these?
Customer avatar
Spencer S June 02, 2018 8:51 pm UTC
My hardcover print on page 173 the Random Wilderness Terrain chart appears shifted "up", causing the table headers to push off the page (Plain is the first header, but is over the 6th data column where Hills should be, then Scrub and Forest, then Rough is cut off at the edge of the page). Anyone else noticing this or is it a printing error?
Customer avatar
Joris P June 03, 2018 4:07 am UTC
Same problem here.
Customer avatar
Chris L March 18, 2018 9:40 pm UTC
It's back up for POD! I ordered all three core first edition books, looking forward to checking out first edition!
Customer avatar
Chris L March 10, 2018 1:49 pm UTC
Another guy here requesting a POD version. I want a collection of 1E core books, and I plan on ordering the other two, but really just wanna order the whole set from here.
Customer avatar
David G March 02, 2018 7:57 am UTC
Was about to purchase all three 1e core books as PoD DMG??
Customer avatar
William H February 26, 2018 2:34 am UTC
Why is this not a hardcover? -- More people are likely to buy a;; three core books as reprints if the same hardcover format is available for ALL THREE. Seems obvious, but...
Customer avatar
February 08, 2018 8:24 pm UTC
Will the DMG be available as a POD anytime in 2018?
Customer avatar
Kyle V December 08, 2017 8:59 pm UTC
Will the option to buy the print version become available again?
Customer avatar
April 19, 2017 12:21 pm UTC
Will the POD become available again?
Customer avatar
John N February 20, 2017 4:49 am UTC
Wasn't this available via POD just a short bit ago?
Customer avatar
Patrick S February 22, 2017 3:12 am UTC
Yes. The POD copy had an error on two of the pages (basically rendering some tables unreadable). I really didn't consider it a big deal, but I'm assuming they pulled it to fix the errors and it will be back when it is ready.

Great copy otherwise! Glad to see it in POD!
Customer avatar
William A February 02, 2017 1:55 am UTC
Can someone verify the paper type in the print copy? Is it paper like the original or glossy like the reprints?
Customer avatar
Scott G October 21, 2016 3:36 am UTC
Does this have the Assassin's tables for assassination (i.e. instant kill) chance? I've got the PHB 1st ed, 6th printing, which mentions their existence, but I'm guessing they're in this book. While I may despise the idea of giving WotC any of my money, I want to fully use this character class in games.

Thanks for any help.
Customer avatar
Ian M January 05, 2018 10:47 pm UTC
Yes, they do.
Don't despise WotC!
Customer avatar
William T November 30, 2015 7:25 am UTC
Before I shell out (again), can any purchaser tell me if this is the PDF missing DMG page 175 (Dungeon Random Monster Tables--Monster Level 1 and related subtables), which should be p.176 in the PDF?

Customer avatar
William T February 22, 2016 7:00 am UTC
After purchase: The DMG is complete--The cover is as above, not either of the 1e covers, p. 236 has the TSR wizard logo instead of the Gen Con ad in my print book (rev. ed. Dec. 1979); and the AD&D Game Family listing on p. 237 has been replaced by a full-page notice for the Gygax Memorial Fund.
See 16 more
Narrow Results
 Follow Your Favorites!
NotificationsSign in to get custom notifications of new products!
 Recent History

Product Information
Mithral seller
Rules Edition(s)
Publisher Stock #
TSR 2011
File Size:
6.59 MB
Scanned image
Scanned image
These products were created by scanning an original printed edition. Most older books are in scanned image format because original digital layout files never existed or were no longer available from the publisher.

For PDF download editions, each page has been run through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to attempt to decipher the printed text. The result of this OCR process is placed invisibly behind the picture of each scanned page, to allow for text searching. However, any text in a given book set on a graphical background or in handwritten fonts would most likely not be picked up by the OCR software, and is therefore not searchable. Also, a few larger books may be resampled to fit into the system, and may not have this searchable text background.

For printed books, we have performed high-resolution scans of an original hardcopy of the book. We essentially digitally re-master the book. Unfortunately, the resulting quality of these books is not as high. It's the problem of making a copy of a copy. The text is fine for reading, but illustration work starts to run dark, pixellating and/or losing shades of grey. Moiré patterns may develop in photos. We mark clearly which print titles come from scanned image books so that you can make an informed purchase decision about the quality of what you will receive.
Original electronic format
These ebooks were created from the original electronic layout files, and therefore are fully text searchable. Also, their file size tends to be smaller than scanned image books. Most newer books are in the original electronic format. Both download and print editions of such books should be high quality.
File Information
Watermarked PDF
Watermarked PDF

These PDF files are digitally watermarked to signify that you are the owner. A small message is added to the bottom of each page of the PDF containing your name and the order number of your purchase.

Warning: If any files bearing your information are found being distributed illegally, then your account will be suspended and legal action may be taken against you.

Here is a sample of a page from a watermarked title:

File Last Updated:
November 13, 2018
This title was added to our catalog on July 21, 2015.